Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lectio Divina (lex-ee-oh dih-vee-nuh)

Christianity and various forms of ancient and modern witchcraft and paganism have mutually adapted and adopted elements since Jesus arrived on the ancient scene. The lines between are ever so blurry sometimes. Which brings us to: the Lectio Divina (divine reading), which is a Catholic practice that has been fruitfully be adopted and adapted by people of any faith, but I think perhaps especially so by those who practice magic and seek to both hone their ability to focus with intent and also to open themselves to divine and intuitive inspiration.

Although the foundation of this practice is reading, it is the opposite of how we normally read. This practice lets the words open naturally so the reader can enter a text on a very different level. If you are interested in giving it a try, here are some steps that I use:

1. Read. Select a brief passage from a text that is appropriate to your practice. Read it aloud, slowly. Do not be hurried. You might also choose repeat it more than once, perhaps employing a significant number such as 3. Or you might try reading the text with different emphases and tones of voice to see how those changes affect your experience of the text. Note which words or phrases stand out most to you.

2. Meditate: In this context, meditation means holding the text gently and letting yourself explore the effect of it. Play with it. Turn it this way and that. Questions you might employ to approach this time include: What is the word or phrase that stands out most? What annoys you? Inspires you? Does the reading make you physically feel anything (e.g. a sense of light, a tension in the chest, weight, etc.)? Did you find yourself smiling or furrowing your brow? What effects did the different methods of reading convey?

Once you have been able to see your reactions to the text, ask yourself: What does this passage have to do with my life right now? How does it relate to my path and my choices?

Here’s what not to do: Think about context. I know, it seems out of character for me to say that-- but I am not talking about scholarship here-- just one meditative practice. Don’t try to think about the rest of the book, text or surrounding controversies, cultures, histories, debates and traditions. There is no need to go off on a theological treatise in defense of the text. The text is the ocean. Let it roll over you. Let it inhabit you.

3. Pray: Your prayer is your immediate response to the text. Any response is appropriate.

4. Integrate: Rest for a moment and allow the meaning of the experience to sink in. Let the experience change something for you. Do something new. See something differently. At the very least, jot down your insight.

Fairy house, groundcover

Things in this photo: Handmade clay fairy house, purple deadnettle, white clover and speedwell in bloom

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wee gingerbread and podcasting

Being a folk Victorian tenant farmer's house, The Little Victorian is not the ornate, gingerbread-y thing one might imagine, but this snapshot shows a few of her period details. Actually, the house across the street is what you imagine, but that's where the wealthy people lived back in the day. And that's why this is the little Victorian. The big one is over yonder.

Well! Onto another subject entirely. So I had the opportunity to join in on the recording of a podcast, which was pretty exciting. The official discussion was a bit over an hour, but I think we were coming up on four hours when we all got off of Skype. At some point it became clear that the host was still recording our unofficial conversation, most of which I have to admit I hope never sees the light of day. Perhaps due to a combination of red wine and exhaustion after a long day I got caught up and kept forgetting that recording was still happening. On the flip side, there were bits in amongst those hours that were in fact very much on topic-- that topic being Michael, the kindly werewolf/nursing student, who was the primary guest of the show. The whole kit and kaboodle was fun and both the guys were great. Will post when the podcast is available.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kyphi on the dark moon

Knowing I would not have time to start it from scratch today, I began making my first batch of kyphi over the weekend. Kyphi is incense based on ancient Egyptian temple incense that has wine, honey and raisins as its base. It is every bit as gooey-sticky as it sounds. Along with the sticky base there are piles of herbs and resins to grind, hunched over a mortar and pestle. There is the time to cure of a month at the very least, making kyphi a labor of love and a great opportunity to infuse the work with energy and intention. So far I love the process and tonight I'll be forming my kyphi into smallish chunks and setting them up to cure. If this batch turns out to be viable as incense, I'll be sure to share more about the process.

For now, I recommend this extremely expensive book, which can be found in part on Google books: Sacred Luxuries by Lise Manniche.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Celtic Rain Blessing

It rains a lot here in the winter, which helps to bring us an early and green spring. I love this little blessing, especially when I stop appreciating the rain and get annoyed.

May the blessing of the rain be on you—
the soft sweet rain.
May it fall upon your spirit
so that all the little flowers may spring up,
and shed their sweetness on the air.
May the blessing of the great rains be on you,
may they beat upon your spirit
and wash it fair and clean,
and leave there many a shining pool
where the blue of heaven shines,
and sometimes a star.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hearth Altar

The front room's hearth is my indoor altar. I switch things up often, but this is how she's been looking since Candlemas. I really do love being able to have my hearth as my altar no matter how it's decked out.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Grey Cloak for Candlemas

Candlemas was busy enough, but candles were made and ritual occurred with this wee mixed media painting propped up at the hearth. When I made this I had no conscious idea of why, exactly. She feels Candlemas-y to me though. Something about the grey cloak and darkness contrasted with the bright flowers and golden rays, perhaps. Maybe she's Brigid. Maybe.